"Welcome to 'The Daily Show.' Craig Kilborn is on assignment in Kuala Lumpur, I'm Jon Stewart."
And so began Jon Stewart's tenure as host of what has arguably become one of the most important sources of American satire over the last decade and a half. Since being created by Lizz Winstead and Madeleine Smithberg in 1996, "The Daily Show" has sought to hold both the media's and politicians' feet to the fire on wide-ranging issues. Once Stewart was chosen to replace Kilborn in 1999 -- who departed after alienating most of the show's female staff and prompting Winstead to leave after sexist comments he made in Esquire magazine -- the show was finally able to become what the creators had hoped it would be: a hilarious voice of reason and biting criticism in an absurd system.
In honor of Stewart's 50th birthday, we thought we'd take a look back at his auspicious first show, which also featured segments by already-regular correspondents Beth Littleford and a guy named Stephen Colbert. Watch part one above and part two below. (Note in part two, Jon is legally not allowed to do the "Five Questions" segment, which Kilborn claimed as intellectual property, so instead, he does "Four Questions." Totally different.)